Buoyed by its good showing in the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections in which it won five seats, the AIMIM is now planning to throw its hat in the electoral ring in the West Bengal Assembly elections slated in the first half of 2021, which could spell trouble for non-BJP parties in the eastern state.
Telangana-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen or AIMIM, led by Asaduddin Owaisi, put up an impressive show in Bihar by bagging more than 1.24 per cent votes while contesting 24 seats.
The AIMIM not only won five seats in Bihar, but also played the political spoilsport in an equal number of Assembly constituencies, which could have tilted the balance in a tight situation like in the new Bihar Assembly.
This prompted Congress West Bengal unit President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to say that “the Grand Alliance in Bihar lost because of AIMIM”.
The AIMIM’s entry in West Bengal will make the Trinamool Congress, the Congress and the Left jittery as a resurgent Owaisi, after wining seats in Seemanchal area of Bihar bordering West Bengal, could now cut into their poll prospects in the latter state.
As many as 90 segments in 294-member West Bengal Assembly have sizeable Muslim voters, who can be a deciding factor in any poll battle. Even if the AIMIM may not win many seats in Bengal, it can surely play a Bihar-like spoilsport for the TMC and the Congress.
Chowdhury’s sentiments are echoed by the TMC leaders who allege that Owaisi is out to benefit the BJP. On the other hand, Owaisi denies the charge and said that he was running a political party and will contest elections wherever the party wishes.
Muslims in West Bengal account for 27 per cent of the total voters, a majority of them going along with TMC and the Congress. The BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections and any further division of Muslim votes in Assembly elections will only benefit it.
The districts of Murshidabad, Malda, and North Dinajpur have more than 50 per cent Muslim population while Birbhum, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Nadia have more than 25 per cent Muslims.
Districts with around 20 per cent Muslim population are Kolkata, Bardhaman, and Dakshin Dinaj, while Hooghly and Purab Medinipur have around 15 per cent and Pashchim Medinipur around 10 per cent Muslims.